The Corner

Woolsey: Iran and Obama’s Choice

James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, tells NRO that the revelation of a second uranium enrichment site in Iran presents serious challenges to the Obama administration. “Since the top levels of the government in Iran are constituted of theocratic, totalitarian, and genocidal maniacs, it shouldn’t be too surprising that they also violate treaties and lie about their nuclear sites,” he says.

Today’s public disclosure of the second site, he says, “gives the United States a bit more leverage to get Russia and China into supporting slightly more effective sanctions.” Woolsey admits that establishing “really decisive” economic sanctions with Russia and China’s support will be difficult, since those two nations increasingly share “close business and commercial relationships with Iran.” Therefore, he says, “We are likely to find ourselves in a situation where unless we have done something extraordinary in terms of sanctions, then the world will be faced with a question: Will Israel or the United States use force or will they practice acquiescence in dealing with Iran having a nuclear weapon?”

“I’m not optimistic that either Russia or China will move far enough to establish a tough set of sanctions at the United Nations Security Council,” says Woolsey. “I also haven’t seen anything to suggest that the Obama administration will move very decisively on economic sanctions, either.” But, he adds, “I hope I’m wrong.”

“What I would consider ‘very decisive’ is if the White House or Congress said that any company that does any kind of business with an Iranian entity — not just the Revolutionary Guards, not just oil and gas companies, but any entity — can do no business with the United States government.”

Will the Obama administration take up Woolsey’s advice? “I’d love to believe so,” he says, “but I just don’t know. I’m certainly open to ideas.”

“If they do not do that or something equally tough, then they will have to decide later this year or sometime early next year whether they are going to actually make it be unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, or just verbally say it’s unacceptable, then accept it. If they don’t act very, very decisively, and very, very quickly with economic pressure, then they will have to make that choice.”

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

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